Criminal Appeals & Wrongful Convictions
Why Do Wrongful Convictions Occur?
Thousands of people have been wrongly convicted across the country. A conviction may be classified as wrongful for two reasons:
- The person convicted is factually innocent of the charges.
- There were procedural or constitutional errors that violated the convicted person’s rights.
If you were wrongfully convicted, you may believe you are out of options. The court reached a decision, and now you’ll have to suffer the consequences, right or wrong. In fact, an unfair criminal conviction or sentence is not the end of the road. Some court decisions can be appealed if the trial was improperly conducted or if other constitutional or procedural errors occurred at trial or before trial. This might be the case if evidence was improperly introduced, the prosecutor engaged in illegal actions, evidence was withheld that could have impacted a jury decision, your attorney provdied ineffective assistance or if the judge incorrectly instructed the jury. It’s important to consult an attorney focused on appeals to help you determine if you have valid grounds for an appeal.
How to Challenge A Wrongful Conviction?
The primary mechanism to overturn a wrongful conviction is by filing a direct criminal appeal with an appellate court. A criminal appeal can also occur after winning a suppression hearing at trial resulting in the prosecution filing an interlocutory appeal. Regardless of how a criminal appeal begins, the appeals process is the same consisting of three judges who decide the case. Unlike a trial where evidence is presented and witnesses testify, during an appeal neither side is allowed to present evidence. Instead the appellate court justices rely solely upon what evidence was presented and the appellate briefs presented by the parties on appeal.
Depending on the circumstances wrongful convictions can be challenged in a number of ways.
The rules related to filing a criminal appeal contain strict timelines from when you must file a notice of appeal to how long you have before your appellate brief must be filed with the court.
Appealing a wrong decision is not limited to a finding of guilty or issues raised at trial but it can also occur because a losing party wants to appeal a denial of a post-conviction petition. An appeal is also not limited by appealing to an appellate court because any party who loses the appeal can attempt to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and if the appeal involves a constitutional issue an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. However, before you can appeal to the Supreme Court, the Court needs to give you permission to appeal because there is no guarantee or right that the Supreme Court needs to hear your case.
An appeal or post-conviction petition is vastly different than the process at trial. Trials are the place where evidence is heard and brought before the trier of fact. On appeal or in a post-conviction petition evidence is not presented to the appellate court. Instead, the appeal or post-conviction seeks to review the trial court’s evidentiary rulings or its ultimate decision following trial. The reviewing court’s decision is reached solely based upon the record on appeal. The record on appeal consists of the parties’ filings in the trial court, the trial court’s orders, and the transcripts of the trial proceedings. The fact that new evidence cannot be presented in the appeal or post-conviction petition requires trial counsel to properly preserve the issues on appeal. This is especially important because issues that are not properly preserved for appeal are forfeited and cannot be raised on appeal except for plain error.
Criminal Appeal and Wrongful Convictions cases we won in Illinois
We are very proud of the cases that we have won especially those when our clients were wrongfully convicted. Each case is different and past case studies along with the information on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted to indicate a certain result will occur in your specific legal situation.
Client, a Chicago criminal defense attorney, was found guilty of obstruction of justice after a bench trial. After his second criminal defense lawyer was unsuccessful in getting him a new trial during post-trial motions, the client hired Jaleel Law P.C. to handle direct criminal appeal to the appellate court. Based solely upon the briefs, the appellate court vacated the finding of guilty and entered a finding of not guilty as a matter of law.
Criminal Appeals cover a variety of different appellate litigation and we have the experience to handle them all.
Areas We Serve
Centrally located in Du Page County we represent clients in trial and appellate courts throughout Illinois including the counties of Cook County, Du Page County; Will County, and Kane County. We have won on behalf of clients at the Daley Center; 26th and California; Bridgeview; Skokie; Rolling Meadows; Maywood; Markham; and all the branch courts in Chicago; and the Northern District of Illinois along with all five Illinois Appellate Courts and the federal circuit court of appeals.